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Sweden’s Text Message System Saves Cardiac Arrest Patients

Update Date: Oct 24, 2013 04:16 PM EDT

Cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart develops an arrhythmia and stops beating, is difficult to treat because the condition can manifest at any time and place. For people who suffer from a cardiac arrest and are nowhere near a hospital, survival depends greatly on how fast an ambulance can get the victim to a medical facility. In order to address this problem, Sweden has developed a text message system that will get treatment to these victims faster.

The text message system is called SMSlivräddare, which translates to SMSLifesaver. It works by connecting a network of volunteers who have been trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Through the text message system, these volunteers will receive a message if they are 500 meters, equivalent to 0.3 miles, to the cardiac arrest patient. The concept is that the volunteer can help the patient before an ambulance arrives, increasing the patient's survival rate. The text message system only works if someone dials in Sweden's emergency number, 112 and reports the case.

The system is run by the Stockholm South General Hospital and the Karlinska Institute. There are currently 9,600 volunteers that are registered with around 200,000 people who have been trained in CPR and could also participate in the program. Getting care to the cardiac arrest victims as soon as possible is extremely important for survival rates. According to medical professionals and researchers, for every single minute that is wasted, the patient's survival rate dips by 10 percent.

Due to the importance of giving medical care to victims, programs in the past have attempted to persuade bystanders to perform CPR if they know how to. However, researchers have found that not everyone is comfortable administering care. The volunteers in the program are essentially bystanders who will and can improve survival rates by performing CPR immediately.

"SMSlivräddare is a unique project that uses mobile location technologies to improve survival after cardiac arrest outside the hospital by this method may be more to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation before the ambulance is on site. When an alarm on suspected cardiac arrest comes to 112, you can, if you are nearby, quickly be alerted to the site via your mobile phone," the website described.

The program started in May 2010 and is now active in the entire Stockholm County. The program is in its final scientific evaluation stage.

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